The Gift of No

Sam and I went farther than we wanted to last weekend. Our only boundary had been not to turn each other on. But it’s kind of hard not to get turned on when you’re making out on top of each other in the dark on the beach. Or again the next night on a bed. We both felt incredibly heavy the following morning, and knew that we had definitely done something wrong.

The week before, I was trying to figure out the whole boundaries thing. I’ll admit… I didn’t want boundaries. It’s not because I didn’t want to fight for purity. It’s because I didn’t understand their purpose. “Shouldn’t we just rely on the Holy Spirit to convict us?” I thought. “Didn’t Jesus come to abolish the law? I don’t think a list of specific rules is going to help.”

Then we were making out on a beach and I realized I had a lot to learn. I’m pleased to report that just one week later, I already have a little more insight.

Sam and I just started reading Boundaries in Dating by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, and it’s changing my perspective on a lot of things. The biggest thing I’ve learned so far from this book is that boundaries are much more about keeping the good things in than keeping the bad things out. Boundaries are about protecting the good things that God has given you. Every time you say no to one thing, you are saying yes to another.

I’d like to share with you something new that I learned this week out of a passage that I was already very familiar with… the story of the first man and woman.

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:16-17

Two major events had not yet occurred when God spoke this command to Adam: the creation of woman, and fall of man.

We often think of “no” as being the sad opposite to the word “yes.” In most cases, we would rather have a yes than no. I think somewhere throughout childhood, we experience the sad feeling of being told “no” when we ask for a cookie, and then we are told that heaven is the greatest, happiest place there is, free from sadness. I think we assume that there will be no “no” in heaven. We assume that “no” is bad.

Well in Genesis, we find evidence to the contrary. “No” existed in God’s perfect paradise. Adam and Eve were placed in a garden that was supposed to be the ideal place for the human soul. And what do we find in the middle of all that beauty and wonder?

No.

This tells me that there is something good about saying no… about denying yourself a pleasure or a desire.

“No” is one of the most loving things you can give someone. Why? Because often, a small no is actually a much bigger yes. Every time I say no to myself when I want to touch Sam somewhere I shouldn’t or do something to turn her on, I’m saying yes to so much more. Here’s 3 things that come to mind.

  1. I’m saying yes to trust. I’m saying that she can trust me to keep my promises, to hold my ground, and to remain strong in the face of temptation. When will that be useful? In marriage. I want her to have absolutely confidence that I will never be tempted to violate the promise we make some day. This is my opportunity to lay that foundation.

  2. I’m saying yes to freedom. When we sin, if we have the Holy Spirit inside of us, we feel guilt immediately or soon after. Jesus died to release us from that guilt, and when we choose to sin, we’re running back into the graves that he set us free from. I don’t ever want Sam to feel the shame of sin with me. I want to help her walk in freedom.

  3. I’m saying yes to a better sex life. This is the fun one. God rewards those who keep his promises, and I have a feeling that when you commit to fighting for purity, he rewards it in a very literal way! It’s like a child who is given the option of 1 chocolate bar now, or 10 tomorrow. Which will he choose? It’s not easy, but it pays off in the end. I have faith that no effort made to honor him will ever be in vain.

These are just a few examples. There are so many more.

At the beginning of this post, I also mentioned that God gave Adam the command before he even made Eve. I think this is significant, and I view it as a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. I believe it’s my job as the man in this relationship to hear God’s voice, and share it with Sam, my Eve. Am I saying that Sam can’t hear God’s voice? Absolutely not. But when it comes to purity and boundaries, I want to be taking the lead. I want to be constantly seeking out his voice. I’m committing to take extensive time each week to listen to God and to ask for clarity on how I should be treating and taking care of Sam. She is a gift that he has given me, and I don’t take it for granted.